Tag Archives: Gellibrand Point

Fossil Cove posting 1 of 4

On the day when I walked from Blackman’s Bay to Point Pearson near Tinderbox, then retraced my steps to catch a return bus from Blackman’s Bay, I omitted to walk via Fossil Cove. The pathway to this secluded rock strewn cove required a detour of over 2 kilometres. Since my day’s walk to the mouth of the Derwent River on the western shore and return was expected to be over 20 kms, I resolved at the time to return on another occasion to walk this section.

I was delighted when I finally ‘discovered’ what locals and others have known for a long while.

A couple of kilometres along Tinderbox Road after leaving suburban Blackmans Bay, Fossil Cove Drive is clearly marked.  Around a kilometre down that road, a sign indicates the way to the beach.

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A further sign declares this area to be a public reserve and a site of national geological significance.

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The steep descent to the Cove was controlled by steps and dirt pathways.

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I was dazzled by views across to Opossum Bay and Gellibrand Point on the eastern shore of the Derwent River.

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Finally I arrived at sea/river level.

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Nature is cheaper than therapy

A Californian fiction writer M.P. Zarrella offered the opinion ‘nature is cheaper than therapy’.  Since then, her point of view has spawned posters, cushion covers, and T shirts such as:

Nature cheaper than therapy  and tshirt nature its cheaper than therapy

The use of this comment spread until people couldn’t help themselves …

facebook cheaper than therapy and Beer is cheaper than therapy

Thinking about whether nature is cheaper (with the inference of ‘better’ than therapy), I have been inspired to trawl through my walking-the-derwent photos.

Here are a few favourite natural scenes clicked during Stages 1-6 of my walks along the eastern shore of the Derwent River.  Most of these images spent time as my computer screen background where they lifted my spirits daily.

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Iron Pot off the southern end of South Arm peninsula

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Driftwood beach shack on Pot Bay Beach, South Arm peninsula

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Mount Wellington across the Derwent River from South Arm Beach

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Looking northwards into the gigantic Derwent Harbour from Gellibrand Point at the northern end of the South Arm peninsula.

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Looking uphill from Trywork Point

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Lichen on rocks at Tranmere Point

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Little Howrah Beach

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Looking southwards along Bellerive Beach

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The suburb of Sandy Bay across the Derwent River through the casuarina trees from Rosny Point

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Tranquil Geilston Bay looking toward Mount Wellington

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Bedlam Walls Point

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Shag Bay

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Native flowers in the East Risdon State Reserve

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Tommys Bight

Whenever the weather is deteriorating outside my window, by looking at these photographs from the first 6 of 14 walking stages, I ‘revisit’ the various locations and feel most uplifted. No therapy needed here.

Mount Nelson Signal Station

Overlooking the centre of the city of Hobart and with a view sweeping across to the eastern shore of the Derwent River, Mount Nelson is host to a significant historical site, the Mount Nelson Signal Station.

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Wikipedia provides the information that originally this rise in the landscape was named ‘Nelson’s Hill’ after botanist David Nelson, who sailed on the ship ‘Bounty’ which visited Van Diemens Land on its way to Tahiti (the ship that was involved in the infamous Mutiny on the Bounty). In geological form, Mount Nelson amounts to not much more than a low foothill, however its name gives an indication that something grand awaits you if you venture to the top.

And such a visit is easy in a vehicle, or if you want to take an uphill walk from Hobart’s suburb of Sandy Bay.  In addition, the Mount Nelson via Dynnyrne and Tolmans Hill Metro bus service can deliver you to your destination.  If you like walking, you might choose to catch a bus to the top and then follow any one of a number of clearly marked tracks downhill. Yesterday I made a visit thanks to blog follower Je’s transport, accompanied by another follower Be who is visiting from Cairns.

From different vantage points, the spectacle of the Derwent River spread out below, made us breathless with delight. When I am walking at ground level along the Derwent River, the grand panoramas extending into the distance are denied me.  But yesterday it was exciting to see the bays and hills further afield.

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The photo above looks toward the mouth of the Derwent River on the eastern shore. South Arm peninsula can be seen extending along the water.  As  I stood on Mount Nelson I could clearly identify the Iron Pot, Fort Direction Hill, South Arm Beach, Opossum Bay and its beach, and  Gellibrand Point all of which I walked on during Stage 1 and 2 of my walk along the Derwent River.

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The photo above shows the eastern shore of the Derwent River with Gellibrand Point to the right on the northern tip of the South Arm peninsula. Then the great gaping space of Ralph’s Bay appeared straight ahead. To the left of the image, Trywork Point is in view; this was the starting point for Stage 3 of my walk (after I had walked there from the suburb of Tranmere).

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The photo above shows Ralphs Bay to the right, Trywork Point and then the suburb of Tranmere to the left – on the eastern shore of the Derwent River.

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The photo above shows the eastern shore from Tranmere on the right, through the suburbs of Howrah to Bellerive on the left – the River edges which I walked during Stages 4 and 5.

Across the parkland at the Mount Nelson Signal Station, native Wrens flitted around feeling safe as they hunted for insect meals on the ground.

I enjoyed looking at information panels on the site and learning more about how the place operated.  In addition, one panel showed the location of walking tracks.

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So … what is the history? Not long after Hobart was settled in the early 1800s, locals needed speedy and efficient communication between the convict settlement at Port Arthur and Hobart.  In addition, Hobart residents wanted foreknowledge of sailing ships approaching from the ocean through Storm Bay and on their way to the Derwent River in case any provided a threat to trade or security. To gather this information, in 1811 the Mount Nelson Signal Station was established and designed to use semaphore.  The method of communication was flags waving across the hills.  Details about the semaphore flag signalling system can be read at http://www.anbg.gov.au/flags/semaphore.html.  The site http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semaphore_line provides further information. At the Mount Nelson Signal Station, flags were run up a pole – this seems a very cumbersome process compared to a person waving flags. I hope that someday the signal station will offer a demonstration to the public so I can understand the process.  Give me a re-enactment please.

This semaphore communication service continued in use until a more reliable system was available (what happened at the Signal Station on windy days, in wet weather and when clouds obscured the view?).   It was not until 1880 that a telephone line connected Hobart and Mount Nelson.

Walking around the area is free of charge.  Some pathways are provided. The site has various public amenities including picnic tables, public toilets, carpark, barbecues and a restaurant.

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For further information about eating in the heritage building pictured above, go to http://www.signalstation.com.au.  I recommend that you phone in advance if you are depending on eating there. Yesterday, despite permanent signs indicating the Brasserie was open, another sign on the building indicated it was closed.

During my visit, clouds loomed powerfully over the city and river. The day light was so bright and strong that when I turned northwards and photographed the land and riverscapes, the sky glowed white.  So I clicked a few images pointed at the sky and this silhouetted the landscape.  Using my simple mobile phone as camera, I was never able to control the light of the images.

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Although these looked like rain clouds, it did not rain.  These large puffs were just passing through.

Onto the ‘proper’ Alum Cliffs track near Taroona Tasmania

After walking across the Shot Tower carpark I had one last look back to where I had been. The sky was amazing.

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In the trees then and often further again along the track, Kookaburra birds laughed at me many times. Ha Ha Ha Ha!  Ha Ha Ha! Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.  Their feathers camouflaged perfectly with the shadows from leaves and the colours of tree trunks and branches.  They were impossible to photograph. Ha Ha Ha Ha!  Ha Ha Ha!

A sign seen at 10.08am indicated the start of the Alum Cliffs track.

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Then I began the careful descent on a steep 100 metres or so length of a four wheel drive wide smooth gravel track. Partly eroded. Basic stairs were irregularly constructed on one side of this incline.  Bush either side.  A small wallaby surprised me bouncing through the undergrowth.

At 10.15 am I reached the creek crossing below. Peaceful.  Looking up, an even longer climb on the other side was rather dispiriting. On the trek uphill I stopped and sat for a while to take in the view of dense gum tree foliage. There were smooth gum trunks as far as the eye could see.  No wind. Trickling creek below. Peaceful.   As I walked higher, the Shot Tower came into view bit by bit over the trees.

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It was 10.33am when I reached a picnic table and lookout at the top of the Alum Cliffs.

Passing white crowned toadstools with sharp white gills when open, I walked along a shady path which was quiet except for the occasional birdsong, rustling water in the creek below, or the soft voices of other walkers. I learnt from one of the walkers that the Alum Cliffs track used to follow the edge and in order to cross creek gullies, ropes were installed up and down the cliff to steady yourself during the climbs.  Part of those walks included rock hopping along the shoreline as well.

At 10.45am I reached the turn-off to Taronga Road – I did not want to exit the Cliff walk so I continued on. At 10.53am I reached the junction with the Brickfields Track – another time I will return to this area and walk that track to look at the remains of any social history along the way.

A few minutes afterwards, I felt I was identifying exposed alum rock.  I decided it was the rock which had partly oxidised into a greenish colour in places. Whether or not it is the real deal I cannot say.

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Despite tree roots and rocks intruding on this track, the well-trodden dirt with a slight leaf covering made for very easy walking.  Off to the side of the track walking would not have been quick and easy.

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I loved the colours on gum tree trunks as bark peeled away naturally.

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I loved seeing the signs of insects which once burrowed their way under the tree bark.

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At 11.07am I reached a seat with a viewing platform from where I watched an oil tanker motoring up the Derwent, having passed Gellibrand Point on the eastern shore.

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It was a long way down to the River over the Cliffs.

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Then I walked some way with another walker until I needed to stop and start with notetaking and the clicking of photographs.  I continued down across another creek and stopped when I noticed the clay at the bottom.  My earlier research/posting had indicated a connection between the alum rock and clay.

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The track passed through a tiny wet forest area with green pronged tree ferns.  Back up onto a drier track I reached a picnic table at 11.26am. Nearby, a teepee of tree branches and leaves had been built casually.  Would it be better than no shelter in a rainy storm?  Not too sure how long the ‘tent’ would survive much wind.

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Walking past native flowers; pink heath, lots of yellow tiny daisy like flowers, and a delicate 5 petal lavender blue coloured solitary flower.

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I passed smaller tracks off to the left which ended by hovering over the edge of the Cliff, and some to the right which I imagine found their way back into suburbia or onto the Channel Highway.

A glossy scarlet red spider, black legs with a blue iridescent tail crossed my path.  I have never seen one before and knew nothing until I researched once back home; this was Nicodamidae –Red and Black Spider.  Apparently, ‘toxicity unknown, treat with caution’.  Trust me – I didn’t touch it.  The size was that of a woman’s finger nail.

Not long after chatting with a man and his dog, at 11.40am through the trees I could see bits and pieces of Kingston Beach.  My trek across the Alum Cliffs was almost over.

Wandella Avenue to the Shot Tower, Tasmania

My previous posting explained that the first part of my Stage 12 walk along the Derwent River took me to Wandella Ave but then I retraced some steps and took an Alum Cliff-side disused track, which ultimately resulted in my returning to Wandella Avenue.

So – when you walk from Hinsby Beach and the track arrives at Wandella Ave, turn left, walk for a short while and then turn right into Baringa Rd (the signpost for this is missing). Continue walking around and uphill until you reach the junction with the Channel Highway. I reached there at 9.44am

Nearby was bus stop 32.

I enjoyed soaking in the view across the Derwent River where I could see Gellibrand Point and Opossum Bay.

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Further down the River, South Arm and Fort Direction Hill were visible at the mouth of the Derwent on the eastern shore.

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I turned left onto the Channel Highway (which has no footpath) and was able, for some metres, to walk inside a guard rail and then later on a narrow gravel verge with traffic streaming by.  At 9.50 am I was passing the sign indicating this was the Huon Trail Touring Route.

In the bush which I had clambered through earlier and now as I walked along the road, I was concerned to see an exotic which has escaped and been self-seeding rapidly everywhere.  I don’t know the name of the plant but from experience in my own garden, I know it grows fast and furiously into a medium sized plant with a purple pea flower. I did pull out some of the smaller plants and with the moist soil the roots came out as well.  But there were thousands of plants and continuing my walk was the greater priority, so I stopped pulling.

Further up the road, I could see the top of the Shot Tower above the trees.

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Before long I was standing outside the Shot Tower complex. The time was 10.05am.

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The person manning the souvenir shop and entrance to the Tower gave me a booklet with all the tracks and walks in the Kingborough area, and he pointed out a nearby gum tree just over a rise. ‘That’s where the Alum Cliffs track starts’, he told me. He felt sure the Kingborough Council were ready to build the final part of the Alum Cliffs track from the Shot Tower to Hinsby Beach so I guess we wait and see what progress is made in the months to come.  However, it does seem the track won’t be marked out close to the Cliff edges on that northern part.

On my list of things to do in the future will be to return to the Shot Tower to take the walk up the many stairs and look out over where I have walked. The cost is only $8 including the opportunity to watch an interpretative DVD. The Shot Tower site includes a shop, museum, carpark and public toilets.  Plus the fabulous view!

From Hinsby Beach to Blackmans Bay accomplished on Stage 12 yesterday

The goal of my walk along the Derwent River for Stage 12 was to start at my last stopping point, Bus Stop 30 on the Channel Highway at Taroona on the western shore of the Derwent River, and continue to Blackmans Bay in the local government area of Kingborough.  I did not get as far as expected, but I was satisfied when I finished 2/3 of the way along the Blackman’s Bay Beach.

Over future posts, I will write up the stories of the walk, what I saw and what I experienced, but for now it’s enough to say that I am continuing with this massive project to walk both sides of the Derwent between the mouth and Bridgewater, and then onwards to Lake St Clair.

Yesterday I covered 5 ¾ kilometres of the length of the Derwent River on the western shore (making 35 3/4 kms in total on the western shore), and walked approximately 11 kilometres (making a total of 154 kms to date) to achieve that distance; there were a lot of steep ascents and descents.

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This distance also takes in the streets and paths on which I walked that led to dead ends so that I needed to retrace my footsteps.

The highlights of the walk include finding a way through some of the early part of the almost untracked Alum Cliffs, the delightful walk along the tracked part of the Alum Cliffs, meeting some friendly people along the way, the unusual snake sign at Tyndall Beach, stopping for a long cup of tea in Kingston with a friend, my discovery of another tucked away beach – Boronia Beach, and the Blackmans Bay Blowhole.

There are many memorable images but my favourite for today is one of my photos of mussels growing on the rocks at Boronia Beach.  I have already made it my desktop background image. When enlarged, the blues glow.

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Fundamentally the Stage 12 walk was about forest and water.

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The day started with my being roughly opposite Gellibrand Point at the northern tip of South Arm and finishing opposite the long South Arm Beach.

I intend my next walk will start from where I left off at Blackmans Bay and then continue into the Tinderbox area to Fossil Cove.  But before then I need to record the details of yesterday’s walk.  So Stage 13 will be a while away.

Taroona’s coastline as experienced on Stage 11 of my walk along the Derwent River

The last leg of this Stage was the most interesting because I made discoveries which delighted me deeply.

At 12.18pm, I left my Channel Highway resting spot and walked downhill toward the people-free Taroona High School (closed for school holidays). Close to the bottom of the hill I could see the tops of boathouses and a ‘beach’ to my right so I took a dogleg to Melinga Place on my right and continued downhill.

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I didn’t know this existed. Mostly a rocky shore, a little sand, edged by a mown green lawn.  Serene.  Across the Derwent River, I could see Gellibrand Point at the north of the South Arm peninsula.

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Walking southwards it wasn’t long before I entered the foreshore bushland on an easy-to-walk dirt track.

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Later I found this had a name: the Taroona Foreshore Track. At one point the ‘track’ passed over a ‘beach’ of shells and rocks then returned to dirt and rose up over areas raised above the water.

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An onshore breeze kept me moving.  Every so often, steep trails descended to the rocky shore but I realised that staying on the track would be more comfortable than rock hopping the edge of the River.

When I walked through a grove of trees that were obviously different, I was delighted to read an information panel which informed me this was an “unusual and isolated stand of blackwoods.  Acacia melanoxylon.”  The species is also known as Sally wattle, lightwood, hickory, mudgerabah, Tasmanian blackwood or black wattle. Their rough bark seemed as if it would flake off in small pieces but it was toughly attached.

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At 12.46pm I looked back northward and could still see the boathouses near the High School.

Looking back to boathouses below Taroona HS

A couple of minutes later I reached Crayfish Point where I noticed craypot markers bobbing in the Derwent River as evidence that fishing for crayfish/lobster was taking place.  However, a sign seemed to indicate this was part of fisheries research by the University of Tasmania.

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Brilliant orange lichen sprawled across some of the rocks.  Huge Pied Cormorants rested on rocks with water lapping at their feet.  This was one of those brilliant days when all the superlatives in the world seem inadequate.

It was near here that an information panel enlightened me about some of the native vegetation.  Now I can identify not only Pigface which I love, but also Bower Spinach and Grey Saltbush. Why I didn’t take photos of the real thing while I was walking I cannot say. Daft!  So I have Googled for images:  If you type in Bower Spinach Tasmania Images, up comes a suite of pictures showing this fleshy leaved plant.  Try something similar to find images of the softly grey coloured Grey Saltbush.

When I reached the start of Taroona Beach at 12.53pm, I looked up the hill and in the distance I could see the Shot Tower that had been built in 1870 (the Shot Tower, a major tourist attraction, is normally accessible from the Channel Highway).

The Batchelor’s Grave Historic Site, just above the foreshore of Taroona Beach, was a surprise.  Wikipedia provides the information that this is “the grave of a young sailor, Joseph Batchelor, who died on the sailing ship Venus in the Derwent Estuary in 1810, and was buried ashore on 28 January 1810. It is reputed to be the oldest European grave in Tasmania”. I am amazed at this idea.  I cannot imagine that many Europeans didn’t die and were buried in Van Diemens Land before 1810 – however, maybe this is the only stone grave marker left from early in the 19th century.

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Taroona Beach is backed by Taroona Park with pleasant picnicking facilities and public toilets.

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I left at 1.06pm and walked along Niree Parade for a couple of minutes until the Taroona Foreshore Track restarted.

Within moments I arrived at Hinsby Beach, which was the find of the day as far as I am concerned. Isolated.  Small.  Tree edged. Calm.  Small wave break.  A few boathouses.  A family beach with a few swimmers and sun bathers.  Located at the end of the River edge before the steep Alum Cliffs which flow for 3 or four kilometres to Kingston.

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I soaked in the atmosphere before starting uphill on a public access walkway at 1.22pm, under shady bushes with lush surrounding ground cover. The track connected to the bottom of Hinsby Road. At the top of Hinsby Road the Channel Highway flowed by. As I arrived at bus stop 30 at 1.36pm, a Metro bus came by on which I made the trip back into Hobart. Half an hour later I was in the city and ready to make the bus trip back home in Bellerive.  I walked in the door at 2.40pm after an exhilarating day when my feet didn’t want to carry me, but I insisted and they persisted. This really is a wonderful part of the world.